Play on Words
The message my tape deck read to me when my tape got stuck: "REEL TROUBLE"
Hehe. Get it? Clever tape deck.
Posted by E
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AutoCraddick Leadership
So a few weeks ago Speaker Tom Craddick almost lost his job. A bipartisan insurgency in the House rose up against him and tried to elect another Republican, Jim Pitts, as speaker.
Craddick eeked out a win. Now it's payback time. Craddick gets to assign committees!

SCENE - Somewhere behind the House Chamber. JP= Pitts, TC=Craddick.

JP: How've you been?
TC: Fine.
JP: Are you thinking of anyone for Appropriations Committee Chair?
TC: I don't want to talk about this.
JP: Why not?
TC: I don't want to talk about it.
JP: Why can't we get past this? I mean, are we gonna carry this thing around forever?
TC: Forever? It just happened.
JP: It happened three weeks ago. You know how a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?
TC: Yes. Is one of us supposed to be the dog in this scenario?
JP: Yes.
TC: Who is the dog?
JP: You are.
TC: I am? I'm the dog?
JP: Uh huh.
TC: I am the dog? I don' t see that, Jim. If anybody is the dog, you are the dog. You want to act like what happened didn't mean anything.
JP: I'm not saying it didn't mean anything. I'm saying why does it have to mean everything?
TC: Because it does, and you should know that better than anyone because the minute that it happened, you started calling other members and walked right off my list of supporters.
JP: I didn't walk out -
TC: No, sprinted is more like it.

(Special thanks to Harry, Sally and Texas blogger Eileen for the inspiration)
Posted by E
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Notes on a Non-Scandal
SCENE: The natives crowd into the Governor's press conference room for the action-packed briefing from the Task Force on Appraisal Reform. They're the artists behind the chart-topping hits, "Double the Local Property Tax Homestead Exemption", "Change the Comptroller's Property Valuation Study", and the #1 single, "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Appraised Taxable Value".

Note passed to me halfway through:
Posted by E
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State of Ted 2007
Who else saw the cutaway shot of Ted Kennedy in the beginning of the State of the Union? Red-faced, leaning forward, eyes possibly closed, hands on his temples... Was that some sort of anti-Bush protest, or did he, like me, get wasted before sitting through the speech?
Posted by E
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Men of the Week: Animals
"Monkey Boy" from American Idol
Peyton Manning (got the monkey off his back :))
Gov. Rick Perry
Geico cavemen

Snippet from Stiles: Flying Animals
"It's probably like, 'Damn it's so cold I can't get into this tree, I think ill just fly into the window and kill myself.' Or maybe he had ice in his flight navigation system?" -on the bird that flew into my office window, falling to its death
Posted by E
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American Query
Why don't they just open the damn "other door" in the American Idol audition rooms? Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Posted by E
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A Wintry Mix
- We inaugurated our Governor and Lieutenant Governor today, and Joel Osteen did the invocation. As usual he never stopped smiling. And, I didn't get close enough to ask him how to live my best life now.

- Sascha Baron Cohen's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last night? Can't. Stop. Laughing.
Then when my 300-pound co-star decided to sit on my face and squeeze the oxygen from my lungs, I was faced with a choice: Death or to breathe in the air that had been trapped in a small pocket between his buttocks for 30 years.
- Those of us in TV news are working super hard, because we're "wall-to-wall" with "team coverage" for "Ice Storm 2007" (translation: some ice on the roads).
Heard on talk radio: "I didn't get my newspaper delivered this morning AND all the Starbucks are closed. Is this Armageddon?"
Posted by E
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White and Nerdy
Did you catch the White House press briefing last Tuesday? ABC News' Martha Raddatz's cell phone went off as Tony Snow was addressing questions about the surge. Only, Martha's ringtone was Chamillionaire's "Ridin' (Dirty)". No, for real. (Her 15 year old son put it on there).

from the White House press briefing archive:

(Cell phone rings.) (Laughter.)
SNOW: Does Martha have a hip-hop ring tone? (Laughter.) Play that funky music, white girl. (Laughter.)

Watch the video to see how funny Tony Snow thinks he is.

I can't decide which is worse. Martha's ringtone, or Snow's response to it.
Posted by E
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Men of the Week: Challenging Cap'n Craddick
Rep. Jim Pitts
Number Two, the freelancer
Rep. Craig Eiland

Snippet from Stiles
"Alvin and the Chipmunks does not belong in hip-hop music." -on the Kanye West song, "Through the Wire"
Posted by E
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Not Another Stakeout
I forgot to mention a "freelancer" took video of our stakeout the other night. He wouldn't say who sent him. We called him "Number Two" (after the line in Austin Powers, "Who does Number Two work for?!")

The night before the speaker vote, Number Two's video showed up on YouTube, calling out all the lawmakers who showed up at the top-secret dinner to support Speaker Craddick. You can hear and sometimes see the evil press vultures hanging out outside.

Some sweet moments to look out for:
-The sneaky side-door entrances
-A flash of John M0ritz in his fedora
-Tom Craddick's Members Only jacket

Posted by E
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Pitts Quits
"I told you not to get emotionally involved. You'd only get your heart broken." -Star Telegram's John M0ritz, on the speaker's race

All day, I sat squished among the family members, friends and reporters who usually crowd into the House chamber on the first day, plus all the extra ooglers who wanted to see what happened with this historic race for speaker.

They fussed over the rules for the speaker vote all day, but at 5:30pm, just as my story for six was getting edited, challenger Jim Pitts announced on the floor he was withdrawing! Eff. Eff. Eff. Panic ensued to get that announcement on the air at six.

But now, hours later, I'm kinda feeling defeated. I don't care about their politics, I just thought it would be a great story if the coup was a success. I mean, Florida friggin' clobbered undefeated OSU last night, why couldn't Jim topple Tom?
Posted by E
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The Calm Before the Speaker Shitstorm
The 80th session of the Texas legislature gavels in tomorrow, amid a historic fight for House Speaker. I have been popping Tums like Pat O'Reilly pops painkillers in advance of this vote. But in honor of the process, I'm posting "Bill" from School House Rocks' "I'm Just a Bill", which arguably set my life's course. Sing it with me now, everybody!

I'm just a bill.
Yes, I'm only a bill.

And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee,
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.
Posted by E
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Dead Bird Boulevard
Um, I couldn't go to my capitol office until noon today. Why? Because 63 dead birds were found overnight along Congress Avenue, the so-called Main Street of Austin. They closed a perimeter of the city that happened to encompass my office and the entire heart of Austin.

No one really knows what killed the pigeons, sparrows and grackles, but I think it must have something to do with the speaker's vote tomorrow.

Belo's convergence coverage! (KVUE-TV and The Dallas Morning News all in one link. That's synergy for you, baby.)
Posted by E
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The Stakeout
Spent last night with a gaggle of reporters hanging out on a sidewalk. Awesome way to spend your Sunday night, let me tell you.

Speaker Craddick and his supporters were meeting at the private, members-only Austin Club to plan strategy for Tuesday's floor vote. We stood outside counting the members who went in and then waited for them to come out to talk with us.
Diversion tactics used by members to avoid us:

-Going in the side door into the kitchen
-Pretending to talk on cell phone and giving a quick wave
-Using another member as diversion -- one member would talk to us as about three or four slipped by behind him
-Saying it was his wife's birthday and he had to get going (maybe this is true?)
Posted by E
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Jack Talks Back
A programming note, for those of you in the Dallas-Fort Worth media market: WFAA's Brad Watson does a political segment on Channel 8's Weekend Daybreak show. This weekend I join Brad to answer a few questions and do a little political analysis of the past week's crazy coup de'Texas (yes I steal from commenters). If you don't get to see it, here's an excerpt:

Brad: This morning El!se Who, political reporter at KVUE-TV in Austin joins us. Hello, El!se.
Me: I'm sorry, what?
Brad: Good Morning.
Me: Am I on TV?
Brad: Yes.
Me: Whoa. Cool.
Posted by E
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Ass Wiped

Many thanks to the dear friends that sent me an update on the object of my ass-fection, The Gaffney Ass Peach. Looks like it's getting wiped!

Here's Sky4 video from my old station of workers cleaning The Peachoid (complete with the entire conversation between photog Dennis and pilot Phil about random randomness while they were shooting the video)
Posted by E
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Speaker Scramble

There's been a coup at the capitol. Two former allies of the House Speaker, Tom Craddick, decided to challenge him for the job! Each man said he had the votes to win, but if they really did, then there would be 12,547 members of the Texas House (or something). In reality, there are only 150.

Today, the two challengers decided to team up. Which COULD topple Craddick. I dunno. No one really knows. Everything stays quiet, then breaks fast.

So for the past two weeks, I've been busy trying to figure out what's going on, which is seriously taking up my blogging, margarita-drinking, Chik-Fil-A-eating time. For instance, I got this sweet coupon for free breakfasts at Chik-Fil-A for the entire month and I haven't gotten around to taking advantage of it yet - not even once! Friggin' Speakers race!
Posted by E
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New Year, New Way Forward
Gosh. I haven't resolved to do much of anything in the last, um, six years. Which could explain some of the stagnation within the last, um, six years. So... maybe it's about time. Seven resolutions for 2007:

1. Stop forgetting to request ketchup at the drive-thru window
2. Set up my friend with the libertarian dude who ran for Governor
3. Summon more outrage
4. Stop giving homeless dudes business cards with my cell phone number on them
5. Get more photos with babies, U.S. Senators and models who appear in controversial election-year advertisements
6. Demand more cowbell
7. Surge and accelerate
Posted by E
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Men of the Week: Statesmen Edition
Gerald Ford
Saddam Hussein
Rep. Brian McCall (could be the next Texas Speaker of the House)

Snippet from Stiles: Keeping Track of New York Times Reporters
STILES: Oh, and Ching-Ching Ni is on maternity leave.
ME: How do you know?
STILES: I sent the bureau chief in China an email.
ME: Are you serious?
STILES: I didn't know if she got fired or she got arrested by the Chinese government so I wanted to know. He wrote me back immediately.
Posted by E
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